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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Teaching Law in the UK

There's a wide array of information regarding the market for teaching law jobs in the US but I recently got asked an interesting and related question: specifically, does anyone know of any sources regarding how to get a prawfy-type job in the UK, especially if you have US or Canadian credentials? Thoughts or links in the comments are appreciated.

Posted by Administrators on August 10, 2011 at 04:05 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink


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The best place to look for UK (and NZ and Australian) academic jobs is jobs.ac.uk. All the commonwealth law schools advertise there. You can set up a search with parameters for an academic position and the site will email you new openings every week.

The most important thing to know about commonwealth academic hiring is that there is no analogue to the meat market. Law schools post an opening with an application deadline; candidates apply; decisions are made. So year-round vigilance is required.

It is also worth noting that many commonwealth law schools do not ask for job talks. (My law school, Melbourne, does not.) Hiring decisions are made largely on the strength of credentials (publications being the most important) and an interview. The interview, moreover, is often very formal, with a panel of interviewers drawn from the law school and the university as a whole. (In fact, law faculty might be a small minority of the interviewers.) There is no equivalent to the day-long set of panel interviews that is common in American law schools. It will likely be one interview, and that's it. (Glasgow once flew me from Delhi, where I was living, to the school for an "interview" process that lasted one hour.)

Finally, would-be commonwealth legal academics should note that although many schools are willing to hire an American or Canadian who has only a JD (they understand we don't normally do PhDs in law), they will almost invariably expect new professors to get a PhD in the first few years of their employment. Most commonwealth law schools have rules prohibiting faculty without a PhD in law from supervising (at least in a primary capacity) PhD students. And such students are the intellectual and financial lifeblood of commonwealth schools.

If anyone has specific hiring questions, feel free to ask them here. You can also write me at kheller@unimelb.edu.au. I've had job offers from a few different UK law schools, and I've held permanent positions in the US, NZ, and Australia. So I have a pretty good comparative perspective on hiring practices at this point!

Posted by: Kevin Heller | Aug 10, 2011 6:50:47 PM

As someone with a U.S. degree who currently teaches in the U.K. I wanted to dissent a bit from Kevin's post. Certainly at neither my current school (Warwick), nor the school to which I am about to move was the interview processed controlled at all by people outside the law school. It was very much controlled by the school, with a single member of the larger university being involved only at the very final stage. Obviously that doesn't mean Kevin's statements are wrong, but just that they are clearly not universally true of the U.K.

The same is true regarding the expectation that a PhD will be gotten. A PhD is certainly valued here, but neither of the schools with which I have experience has been remotely concerned about the fact that I don't have one. Moreover, I currently supervise several PhD students, and my own lack of a PhD has not been the slightest obstacle in that respect.

I do, though, agree with Kevin's description of the general process. The informal meat market style interview is unknown here. Instead faculty are generally asked to give a presentation on their research and research plans (i.e. a formal presentation, not just a chat).

One thing to keep in mind for the UK in particular is that right now everyone will be hiring to a large degree based on publications, because we are nearing the end of the REF period (which ends at the end of 2013). This is the process through which UK universities and departments are evaluated, and involves external panels reading faculty publications. So an applicant with no publications, or non-outstanding publications will face real obstacles at the moment, even if they have other indications of quality. I have myself seen individuals rejected largely because it was feared they would not have an adequate REF contribution by the end of 2013.

To reiterate one final point from Kevin's post, though, jobs.ac.uk is definitely the place to look for UK jobs, as it is what everyone uses.

Posted by: Tony Cole | Aug 16, 2011 7:30:33 PM

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